Sunday, November 15, 2015


Me in front of my own personal Mecca (not a very appropriate metaphor today.)
Shakespeare and Company in Paris

Oh, what the heck, let's go straight to Wikipedia for this. It's a good description:

Ianthropologyliminality (from the Latin word lÄ«men, meaning "a threshold"[1]) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold"[2] between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes....
More recently, usage of the term has broadened to describe political and cultural change as well as rituals.[4] During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt.[5] The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established.[6]

Do you think we are in a liminal space in the world...generally? Do you think the Parisians feel as if in a liminal space tonight? 
In Depth Psychology, to be in a liminal space is almost as if being baptized. You will be different when it is complete. You are lost, disoriented, maybe terrified, in an unfamiliar place. It can happen during the most profound life passages - birth, death, a job loss, a divorce, a spiritual shift. It can happen when it makes no sense. It happens when "the gods" think you need it is the way I look at it. We are all likely to experience liminal space in our life - maybe many times over. I have. If you pay attention, it is a growth opportunity akin to winning the lottery. But you have to walk straight into the darkness and, then, beg for help.
I feel like we, humanity, need to do this tonight. Beg for help. From the gods, the angels, all higher beings who must be gazing down upon us and shaking their heads. 
Please, God, show us the way.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

What's Important Now: My Husband and My Bag

My water-stained, Velveteen rabbit of a tote / satchel I almost lost.

Just back from 6 days in New York and, for the first time in several years, I can say I'm really happy to be back in Minneapolis. Home. Especially with Lee. That corny's home wherever he is. Charleston, New York, Minneapolis. Well, okay, not L.A. But pretty much anywhere else.

He was so happy to have me home, too. I could feel it. Didn't help that I texted him as we were literally on the tarmack ready to take off - 3rd in line - when the captain stopped the plane and announced a problem with the flaps. I know enough about airplanes to know you don't want a problem with your flaps. You don't even want a potential problem with the flaps. You don't even want a problem with the computer that records the functioning of the flaps. So, I had to tell him I wasn't taking off on time and I know he started to worry.

They fixed the flaps and we took off 2 1/2 hours later. So he worried even more when I told him we were taking off in the plane with the flap problem. But all's well that ends well because I landed, he picked me up, swooped me into his arms and I promptly forgot to pick up my satchel off the sidewalk outside Door 4 at the Minneapolis airport, so happy I was to see him. He had loaded my extra heavy bag into the trunk and I followed like a puppy into my seat. When I got to 510 and we were unloading the behemoth of a bag from the trunk, I realized I had left my satchel (which sounds kind of weird, but I don't know what else to call it) with MY BRAND NEW MAC BOOK PRO WHICH HAS THE MOST COMPLETED VERSION OF MY BOOK sitting there on the sidewalk. WAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

I know you are thinking, "Are you stupid? Your book isn't in the Cloud?" Well, I don't know for sure. I have a very recent version in Dropbox, but I changed something a couple weeks ago, a change I really like  - the kind where you go "whew!" and I am not sure I put that in Dropbox. So....yes, I'm stupid.

So tired was I from a couple restless nights of sleep, I had to ask Lee what to do. He suggested I call the airport police, which I did and, bingo....they had my bag. So we drove back to the airport. I say "we" because I was clearly a little loopy / spacey (ya' think?) and he didn't trust me to park the car and ever find it again. So, he was a complete gentleman by driving me back to the airport, parking the car, walking into the airport with me at which point I met a policeman at Lost and Found and retrieved my bag - but only after he informed me that I had committed a misdemeanor and (probably if I'd been any younger or more sassy) he could have slapped me with a ticket and court date!

That's what he said, anyway. I was practically kissing my satchel when he handed it to me, so I'm pretty sure he could see I didn't intend to leave it around to cause anyone harm. Besides, if that was my intent, I would NOT have sacrificed this particular satchel. I get compliments on it wherever I go. It is so practical and chic and made by a colleague of mine - Talin Spring whose company is SpringFinn.

Back to Lee. As we drank the cappuccino side by side with that beautiful sun shining in from the Southern sky - the cappuccino which he makes perfectly for me each morning - I felt a spring of gratitude for him. I remembered how he polished three pairs of my shoes as I was packing for the trip. And as he walked out the door today, the look of relief when he said, "I'm so happy you're home. So happy."

So am I.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Turn on, tune in, drop out

Opener to the show Hippie Modernism at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Whoa. So about it. Born in 1953, grew up in the 60's and 70's and it was just so much fun then. So Lee and I couldn't miss the Walker exhibit - Hippie Modernism. I even noticed that our ages gave us a special entry fee price.

"Yeh, we're totally hippie modernists," Lee said, slightly teasing the very cool looking woman from whom we would buy our tickets - who looked approximately our age.

"Oh, you're artists with the exhibit?" she asked.

"No, not artists. We just want to see it. We lived this. We're old." Lee said. Deadpan.

Then, I noticed, "Wow. We both qualify for the Senior rate. Yep. I'm 62 and he's 64," I said.

"Get out. You're not." she smartly said. I smiled.

"Yep. Wanna see our id?"

"No, we don't need to see that." She laughed and handed us our tickets. And we tripped off to the show.

Well, not literally tripped.

We meandered for the next hour through the later 60's during which time I was slightly too young to get my head around what was happening. But by 1971, when I graduated from high school and headed to college, then moved to San Francisco in the summer of 1975, I had begun to absorb all the ways "the times, they are a changin'".

I realized that I had parents who allowed my moderate exploration into this alternative world - why, I can't explain. I suspect it was less conscious that I might fantasize and more about just having four mouths to feed and a small mortgage to pay.

The only real alarm I set off was when, during the summer I was 17  I decided I would wear hot pants. And they couldn't stop me. God. So embarrassing. I could have been fighting for civil rights or protesting Viet Nam.

Pretty much what I was wearing the entire summer I was 17 - just before heading to college.
What is so astonishing is the innocence. We had ideas about how the world could be different. We had words. We had print. We had paper. We had our actions. We had love-ins and sit-ins and be-ins. We marched and raised our fists and raised our consciousness and raised our hemlines. Then dropped them again. We went barefoot because adults didn't like that. We started swearing for the same reason. Especially using the word "Fuck" whenever another word was actually a more intelligent choice.

We innocently believed we could change the world. And we did. You know that phrase. "Thoughts become things." Our thoughts became civil rights and women's rights and sexual freedom and a return to nature and an awakening to the fragility of the planet and the horror of war. All those things were thoughts first. And it's never been the same since.

In this life, I got my timing right.

1960's bathing suit
Self-contained architecture was a new idea

And in person...

John and Yoko

Remember Buckminster Fuller and the geodesic dome????

Someone had an idea to create a self-sustaining citrus garden.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Best Boots Ever

Ten years ago,  I was flat broke. Lee was living in L.A. teaching sixth grade at the Westside Waldorf School and going to graduate school in Santa Barbara once a month at Pacifica - working on a degree - or two - in Depth Psychology. I was living in Minneapolis, completing my assignment as mom to Isabelle, age 15 that year and a sophomore in high school. I wouldn't leave her for the world. Not even for Lee. I was a big girl. I could fly to L.A. if I had to. If I could come up with the spare change. Long story about how we got to this juncture. That story is in my book. (Smiley face.)

So, I had been what I call, in probably offensive terms, an education Nazi. I'd begged, borrowed and had stolen for my kids education. Well, not stolen. But you get the idea. I had a public school education in Iowa and when I saw what was alternatively available in Minneapolis - especially at the Waldorf school in Minneapolis, then at Blake for high school - I drank the kool-aid.

What this meant as a very middle class family experiencing divorce and change - and sometimes with my head just under the water line of middle class - choking for air - is that I had no money for a wardrobe. But having been a woman who had spent my entire life loving fashion - like, since I was six!! this was not an easy pill to swallow.

But, kiddos first, so I figured out that I could spend several years wearing about four items. Gap men's 1969 button front low-rise jeans, J. Crew long sleeved perfect cotton T (in black of course) and, voila! my big splurge.....Black Frye Harness Boots. Thankfully, one of my awesome clients gave me a black nylon Prada bag for my birthday in 2005 and that made the whole thing work. In a New York kind of way. Not in an L.A. kind of way...which is where I was going on occasion of course. But I got very superior about it all in a fuck you L.A. kind of way.

I woke up this morning, this September 28, 2015 and put on my boots. The same boots. Not a new pair. They are still just perfect - albeit more sexy, more broken in, more formed to my feet. Ten years later, I still feel like I stride in these boots with a confidence that no other shoe provides. Just the right heel, just the right slightly ass-kicking attitude.

I don't even remember what they cost. But they are the best money I ever spent on a piece of clothing. Ten years later, I feel this lift when I put them on with my now AG or Citizen jeans. I've replaced the men's Gap. I toss on an Equipment silk shirt. I've replaced the J. Crew t-shirt. But I haven't replaced my Fryes. Life is good.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

On Aging

Feeling like this is my new topic. You just have so much more time to think about this when your kids are gone. Instead of asking them if they've done their homework or going shopping to keep the frig filled for their unbelievable appetites or filling out the college financial aid forms, you just have all that time to think about getting older. Not like you try. It just happens. Because the fact that they are gone means you are definitely older. I should know. My youngest left home in 2007 when she went to college. So for eight years, I've been thinking about this and I have a lot to say.

There is plenty that just plain sucks about getting old - wait and see all you Gen x-ers. But today, I'm going to talk about when it's really great because that is what I'm thinking about tonight.

Tomorrow I'm heading to NY to work on just the most spectacular happy-making beautiful project, one so sublime I feel like I'm in a movie about a designer working in NY on a Hollywood-worthy home. Now, lucky me....I have so many great clients and projects right now that I could write a blog-post about each and every one of them. Well...maybe not one.

But for this little farm girl from Iowa who wanted to go to New York at eighteen to study fashion or acting but who had no foreseeable way in the world to make that happen, I now feel like I am living that dream - at sixty -two. Yep, sixty-two. Really, I always wanted to live and work in New York. I lived there for a couple years when Lee was teaching and dipped myself so deeply into that ocean of beauty and design that when I was finally asked to do a project there, I could, with modest confidence say, Yes! A holy Yes!

But, this is not all about me. It's about age.

On Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m., I will walk into the site / townhouse on East 78th for a meeting with the two architects from Nate McBride and Assoc. (including Nate and Jack Bales), and three people from the contractor's team including the owner of the company, the project manager and the site supervisor. The contractor is Taconic, and a little bird told me they did Madonna's incredible double townhouse on E. 81st. Nate and Jack have become dear friends; we've pulled at the bones of this project for three years together now. We eat together, drink together, sigh together and solve together. Taconic is newer to me. We've worked on this project for about a year together, but adore what I see. We laugh in our meetings, get good work done, and Artie, the project manager, likes to keep the end in mind. He once said to me, "You know, I don't like to hurry a project at the end. It's always a mistake. I'd rather lose a little money to get it right. No one will remember the money or the extra week five years from now. I want it perfect for the client." Now, this is the attitude of experience.

In August I sat in the room that will soon be the Master Bedroom around a table with all the same people I mention here above as well as Hilary Finn from Hilary Finn Gardens, the landscape designer and Gordon Roth from Roth Painting. At some point, with seven or eight beautiful faces in this circle, I realized that not ONE of them was under fifty! Most were humming along between 55 - 68 if I had to guess.

It was so inspiring to sit with this group of talented people at the top of their game, playing hard, creating a massively complicated thing of beauty for our clients - with quiet confidence that comes from years and years and years of experience with challenging work and that lovely thing called wisdom. Not much ego in the room - outgrown that - just a lot of feeling lucky to be working together in a way that is good for all of us financially and artistically and good for the client in the end.

So, welcome to something past middle age - when you finally have earned what you've worked for, including any reputation that goes with it. A time when you get to hang out with and hopefully work along side other people just like you, people with wisdom, who've listened to the same old music, knew the same old political jokes and shuffled their own kids to the same grand tours of colleges during their Junior year. The familiarity of age is a comfort, a recognition, a shared language that makes the work together a bounty of joy.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The season of St. Michael - Michaelmas - and what it brings

Children play-acting at Michaelmas
Just read friend Wendy Brown's post - my fellow Virgo, Wendy's birthday is the day after mine...she writes of rhythm and ritual and order, of slowing down and this inspired me to write.  I think of of slowing down like the animals, preparing for hibernating - knowing what is ahead of us - chilly nights, drying leaves, darker days here in the heartland.

Don't get me wrong. I love fall. It is my favorite time of the year. A sweet romantic melancholy fills my heart when I walk through Kenwood, see the drying hydrangeas turning to that golden pink, see the brittle stems of the lavendar, the children running freely in the park now, still in shorts and t-shirts knowing how different that will be in only twelve weeks - more likely bundled in down and mittens and tugging at a sled.

I love the change of it all. When I lived in Charleston in the late '70's for the first time, I recall September coming around and instead of Fall, it is "the Hurricane Season." It is warm and moist and turbulent. And a bit exciting for a newcomer to have to evacuate the island I was living on the first year and head to Columbia, a part of that great snake-like chain of cars winding its westward way along I-26. But I missed the signals to pull out my sweaters and change up my closet, to pack away the thin embroidered cotton Indian shirts and flip-flops and replace them with cashmere and boots.
I did that last week here in Minneapolis and, in doing so, saw the holes in my closet where I needed another pair of jeans and another pair of boots and another skirt. Well, not need. Wanted....let's be accurate.

But this change is more than seasonal, more than about changing out wardrobes and storing up wood for the fire. In 1992, as a new parent at the City of Lakes Waldorf School in Minneapolis, I attended my first Michaelmas Celebration at the end of September. Celebrated since the Middle Ages in Europe, it honors St. Michael, the highest of the archangels. Michael is known for his courage in fighting Lucifer, the protector through the darkest days and the administrator of cosmic intelligence. Waldorf schools, founded in Europe in 1919, all celebrate Michaelmas as a festival on or around Sept 29, taking note that we are coming into the darkest days, of the gratitude for the bountiful harvest, and of change that is sure to come.

Lee tells the story this way: as Michael battles with the dragon (he is most often depicted having slain a dragon) we see signs of it in the leaves, the fire-y breath of the dragon burns them and turns them to golden and red all around us. We can then be sure that the battles are raging in the heavens. This is the story for the children. But for us, as adults, the battles rage within at this time of year. The bittersweet melancholy is so often more than just about the change of seasons. It is change in us. We are aging, we are needing to grow, to continue to grow intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, socially and this also means loss. Saying good bye to something that no longer serves us.

I find myself a little less patient, dogged with what is ahead of me, what it is I need .... if I am lucky enough to know what that is. I think it is also a time of confusion, of not knowing what is next. Of uncertainty while still knowing that "change is gonna' come."

May your Season of St. Micheal be a meaningful one.

This St. Michael watches over us in our Library.

A drawing from A Waldorf Main Lesson Book of St. Michael slaying the Dragon

Micheal slaying Lucifer

The classic St. Michael image:  slaying the dragon

Sunday, July 19, 2015

So retro....The Artist's Way

My '90's-era guide to finding my inner artist.
Even though I was born in the 1950's, I have always been a late-bloomer. When I sit in the dentist's chair and am given free reign on what satellite music station I want to listen to, I pick the '80s for the later music of Ambrosia, Stephen Bishop, Hall & Oates, Earth, Wind & Fire. It makes me think of boyfriends and beaches. Like I was born 10 years later than I actually was. Still slightly flakey.

So I grew up a little delayed and by the 90's - turning 40 and already having blown through a marriage and looking for my calling - I was needing a bit of introspection and direction and I came upon The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron at some point in the middle of that decade, a 12-week "recovery" program. Originally published in 1992, The Artist's Way is subtitled, "A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity." This was right up my middle-of-life-needing-to-find-myself-in-a-Jungian-kind-of-way alley.

In earnest about finding the meaning of life, Joseph Campbell did that blockbuster of a series, "The Power of Myth" with Bill Moyers for PBS in 1988 and I think I saw that at least five times on TV, then bought the videotape set. Lee, my husband bought his own set. (Must say: If you haven't seen it, do.)

I was hungry for insight and bliss and a path.

Then, at some point after 1996, the year I married Lee,  I found The Artist's Way. I bought it. I opened it. I inhaled it. I needed to recover my wounded artist.

I had kept a journal most of my life - especially during my 20's, writing almost daily mostly about life and love, with the occasional note about how I felt about my weight. The currency of beauty! Yuck. So writing was not foreign to me. But to do so in a focused, guided way felt like being taken over by angels who just tell you what to do.

Now, some 16 - 20 years later (depending on when I actually did it the first time) I am doing it again. With Lee. Which is just the greatest, sexiest, bonding love thing for me. I'm a total sap for artistic men. He's doing his writing. I'm doing mine.

The point of the book is that we have, for a potluck of reasons, abandoned our artistic, creative selves. Not like everyone wants to be artistic - or be an artist - but for those of us who do, there are so many lame excuses for why we can't pursue those dreams. The process is simple and brilliant and lasts for twelve weeks - more than enough time for that changing a habit idea to take root.

Step One: Write every single morning - three pages - just a brain dump if that's all you got.
Step Two: Take yourself on an artist date every single week. Like a child. Take it out for ice cream and a trip to Disney World. But, really, it doesn't have to be Disney World. It can be anything that makes your heart sing and takes you away from the battery of voices in your head that tell you why you can't be an artist.
Step Three: Do the weekly "tasks" - just guided writing.

For my Artist Dates, I have taken a walk to Loring Park, sat on a bench and looked at the summer flowers. I have spent the night looking at the stars over Lake Sylvia, the kind of stars I remembered from growing up on an Iowa farm - holy and present in a way they never are in a city.
Today, I decided "No work! No balancing checkbooks! No checking delivery dates for furniture!" to set free the right side of my brain. But, for this to happen, I had to leave my apartment. So I went to Northfield to visit my mother, eat deviled eggs and a salted, sliced tomato with her on her patio, then to the new bookstore, Content, on the main street in Northfield to browse the employee's recommended selections laid out on the displays. I bought five books, so happy was I to be in the presence of real words on real bound paper. Not a photo of a book cover on the Amazon website. I signed up for their reading program. I pulled out my debit card. I signed on the line. I did not "click" anything on a computer screen. It was mind-boggling to buy books while interacting with an intelligent, thoughtful human being.

Summer Reading.

Then I went across the street to get coffee at Blue Monday, the kind of coffee shop I wish we had in Minneapolis. Maybe one still exists...near the U? Anyone know? Most have been "done." Even the good ones. Lots of old barns torn down to make them look cool and not contrived. But, really, they end up looking contrived. Because....barns. Sure. Urban Minneapolis has lots of barns, right?

I diverge.

These "dates" and the writing are proving to be profound in their capacity to create a kind of emotional / ideological shift. Like an earthquake - or more to the point - a tectonic shift - a small one, ideas start popping out of the crevices, released from the movement of the work. Tonight, after writing for two full weeks, my mind is trying to catch the yard of fireflies of ideas zapping around me. It's both inspiring and overwhelming. Which one do you catch?